From a young age, we are all taught how to greet people based on their relational proximity. There are various types of greetings, and here I will be focusing on how informal nonverbal greetings like hugging or kissing on cheek/s can affect a child. These greetings and their acceptance, of course, varies from culture to culture and family to family. Therefore, one must not view the content of this article in absolute terms.
The conduct of a child holds great importance to their parents and relatives. It is something that the family is judged by too. In case of physical greetings, more often than not if a kid refuses to indulge in an informal physical greeting (like hugging) and runs away, their parents might get angry and scold the child or even punish them. Unfortunately, this can create a feeling of doubt in the child or even make them accept almost any type of “greeting” behavior. By asking a kid to accept things as they are, we make them doubt their intuition.
Ways to ensure whether a kid is getting enough space or not
- There should be space for open dialogue. One must build a good rapport with the kid and gain their trust. It is only when one feels safe that they express their feelings without filters.
- Do not ask your kid/relative to follow protocols in public irrespective of their discomfort and only share their concerns in private. Bodily autonomy is something that must be taught to the kid, to speak out when uncomfortable even if it does not sit well with others around. This increases the kid’s chance of reporting any bad touch openly and directly instead of doubting themselves over it and only speaking up when something “bigger” happens.
- We must note that discomfort cannot be justified only for “bad touch” or harassment. “I don’t like it” is a reason enough and we must teach our society that.
- We must also make an active effort to better understand others’ comfort zones and not just view things from our perspective. To put ourselves in another person’s shoes is one way to understand their situation. We must look back into our past and analyze whether a similar situation made us uncomfortable. What resources could have helped us at that time? Can we provide such resources to others around us? It may also be true that some of us were never uncomfortable with such a thing and it may be that some of us did not agree with the system and did not need the resources others do; here we must consider the point of subjectivity. Everybody has different priorities, different perspectives, and different thresholds, and we must respect this difference. It is this difference that makes us unique. Even while giving or taking a piece of advice, we must keep this difference in mind. There is a possibility that what seems to be the best way for us is not the best way for the ones we try to help.
- It might be frustrating, but we must allow kids or even adults to “embarrass” themselves and the people associated with them. Embarrassment is a strong word and should not be associated with an act of self-preservation; in this case, a kid asking for personal space in their own way.
We must remember to take things lightly and not gaslight incidents that are of little or no significance, even big incidents pass. It is okay to make mistakes when those mistakes are not harming anyone and are made under proper supervision. It is much better to bear a few awkward looks or have a few awkward conversations than having a kid who does not feel comfortable being around friends and family just because they were not heard or understood in matters integral to them.
By recommending respect for others’ personal space, especially kids, since they are still in their foundational years, I do not mean that a kid should be given total autonomy in everything. One must indeed be well-versed with social customs, especially those relevant to one’s culture, but we must decide what norms are excusable or bendable and to what degree.
By teaching a kid how to speak up when they are uncomfortable and not accept something blindly, we build their confidence and autonomy. We show them that they are not puppets and can make their own decisions as they grow older and wiser. By giving people personal space where needed, we provide them with room to grow on their own. We don’t need to stretch everything out just because we can or just because it is normalized. Not all lessons have to be taught. For some lessons, we have to allow the apprentices to learn for themselves; that way, they will develop a unique take on the issue and promote the same environment for others around them. In the end, it is what we sow that we later reap. Therefore, it is best to love unconditionally and accept the boundaries that others set for us, not forgetting or discrediting the ones we set for others.
Written by Harshita
Arshjot Kaur Nagpal · 6 February 2021 at 9:36 pm
So wonderfully written
Damanjot Singh · 5 March 2021 at 6:19 pm
60 views mere khaate mein
Mayank Singh · 5 March 2021 at 7:22 pm
Very well written harshita
shwetankdhruva · 5 March 2021 at 8:34 pm
Pooja · 15 March 2021 at 11:10 am
Awesome ..full of feelings.
Sonia Seth · 15 March 2021 at 11:39 am
Such an important topic, thank you for shedding some light on it.
Ginni Sodhi · 16 March 2021 at 10:08 am
Beautiful written even I learn
Keerthana · 17 March 2021 at 11:45 am
Very well written! Need more people to realise these small things that can make a huge difference in one’s life.
Anulesh · 17 March 2021 at 3:42 pm
Amazing! Very well drafted. Your message is bold and clear and I’m sure everyone should read this post. A change in society starts with us. And I’m sure encouraging each other to learn from each other is one way of the many others to build a happy society. Your vocabulary impresses me and I’m glad I got an opportunity to read this. Keep it up!
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